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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The historic Lincolnville neighborhood is in need of repair.

It is located just south of downtown St. Augustine.

Recently, a study determined it was "blighted," which makes it eligible for improvements from something called a Community Redevelopment Agency (a CRA).

Lincolnville has great wealth and great poverty. There are abandoned houses which sit next to immaculately renovated homes. There are poorly maintained streets, but there are beautiful gardens at people's homes.

Certainly, there is a lot of community involvement.

Lincolnville Neighborhood Association President Judith Seraphin described the neighborhood, saying, "It seems to me if you live in Lincolnville, you are very community minded."

She wants the neighbors to be a part of the city's improvement effort.

"Neighbors know neighbors," Seraphin said.

The St. Augustine City Commission is considering establishing a CRA. The CRA would be a board of decision-makers which would be made up of the city commissioners. The CRA would get funding from capping property values coming in for the city and county.

And then as property values increase in Lincolnville over the next 20 years, the additional tax money collected goes into a trust fund.

"That trust fund is what is used to fund the improvements needed in the Lincolnville area," City Planning and Building Director Mark Knight explained. "It does not change the tax rate."

"I think it's a good thing for the city and for the neighborhood," Seraphin said.

But she wants neighbors to have a voice when it comes to choosing the improvement projects. She is asking city commissioners "if they would have a local board as an advisory board to the CRA." She wants that advisory board to be made up of Lincolnville residents.

Knight said that can indeed take place, but that a committee of neighbors could be good and bad.

"It could be very beneficial when it comes to budget processing and identifying how to spend the funds and how to prioritize redevelopment projects," Knight said.

However, he said a it could also be burdensome if the group wants to meet often because it's tied to the city.

"It would be a committee in the sunshine," Knight said, "so it would have to have minutes and records, etc. and the administration time and effort goes toward it."

First the city commission has to vote to create a CRA. That decision is expected at the next city commission meeting. If a CRA is created, the people sitting on the CRA would then have to vote to create an advisory board.

Overall, Seraphin welcomes the improvements, and she hopes the people who live in Lincolnville can be a part of them.

Contact Jessica Clark

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jessica.clark.fcn

Twitter: @JessicaFCN

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